Ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is residing in the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf state’s foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday.
Ghani’s whereabouts had been a subject of considerable speculation in the days since he fled Afghanistan over the weekend as Kabul fell into the Taliban’s hands with minimal resistance.
“The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” it said in a statement.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has roiled global politics for days, and brought on intense scrutiny on U.S. President Joe Biden and his decision to withdraw America’s presence from the country.
Biden on Monday stood by his decision, despite the chaos that has unfolded in the wake of the Taliban seizing control of Kabul. Biden has lashed out at Ghani and Afghan security forces for not standing up to the Taliban after two decades of U.S. assistance and training.
“We gave them every tool they could need,” he said Monday from the White House. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. [What] we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.”
Various reports have indicated that Ghani escaped the country with a small fortune in cash.
The rapid fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government has prompted thousands to try to flee the country. But those efforts have reportedly been impeded by Taliban checkpoints around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul despite pledges from the Islamic militant group’s leadership that those attempting to leave would be allowed to do so. The U.S. has said it is ramping up its evacuation flights throughout the week in order to safely transport both Afghans and Americans who remain in the city.
The Taliban is already projecting itself as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan, with spokesmen for the group holding a news conference Tuesday in which they claimed they wanted to unite the country and offer “amnesty” to those who opposed them. It remains highly dubious how sincere those entreaties are, given recent reports of continued violence and repression and the Taliban’s long history of violent repression.